|Most successful club|| Celtic|
The Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the Scottish Cup or the William Hill Scottish Cup for sponsorship purposes, is the main national cup competition in Scottish football. It is a knockout cup competition run by and named after the Scottish Football Association.
The competition is a knockout one. Teams are drawn against each other randomly. The team who is drawn first from each tie is the home team. If the first match finishes in a draw, a replay is played at the stadium of the second team drawn. In the replay, if the scores are still level at full-time, extra time is played and (if necessary) penalties are used to decide the winner of the tie.
The semi-final matches are played at neutral stadiums, usually the national stadium (smaller stadiums if the teams do not bring a large support) Hampden Park and the final itself is traditionally played at Hampden. Celtic Park staged the finals in 1993 and 1998 and Ibrox staged the final in 1997 while Hampden was being redeveloped. The final and semi-final do not have replays and are played to a finish. Extra time is played and penalties are used if necessary. Two finals (1990 and 2006) have been decided by penalties.
All clubs that are full members of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) qualify automatically for the Scottish Cup. In addition to this, the league winners of the East of Scotland and South of Scotland Leagues, both of which contain some clubs that are not full members of the SFA, are given a place in the draw. Before 2007, only four non-league teams advanced from the Scottish Qualifying Cup (North) and (South) competitions. The Qualifying Cup competitions were scrapped in 2007 and the 36 SFA member clubs outwith the professional leagues were given direct entry to the Scottish Cup.
Clubs from Scottish Junior football (all but one of whom - Girvan - are not members of the SFA as they belong to the Scottish Junior FA) were admitted for the first time in the 2007–08 competition. Up to four Junior clubs are allowed to enter, these being the champions of the previous season's Scottish Junior Football North Premier League, the Scottish Junior Football West Premier League, the Scottish Junior Football East Region Super League, and the winner of the Scottish Junior Cup if they have not also won one of the three top regional league titles.
The competition has a staggered entry system. In the 2013–14 season, 36 clubs entered from the first round; sixteen from the Highland League, three qualifying Junior clubs and seventeen other clubs affiliated with the Scottish Football Association. Scottish League Two clubs entered in the second round along with the top two clubs from the previous season's Highland League and the winners of both the South of Scotland League and the East of Scotland League. Scottish League One and six Scottish Championship clubs started in the third round, while the remaining four Championship clubs and all 12 Scottish Premiership clubs entered in the fourth round.
As with all domestic cup competitions in UEFA countries, the winners of the Scottish Cup qualify for the following season's UEFA Europa League (previously the UEFA Cup). If the winners have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League, the cup runners-up are awarded the Europa League place. This has been quite a regular occurrence in Scotland, with either Rangers or Celtic often winning 'The Double', while Aberdeen also achieved that feat in 1984.
In 2006, Heart of Midlothian had already qualified for the UEFA Champions League by finishing second in the SPL, and then won the 2006 Scottish Cup Final. Therefore, the Scottish Cup place in Europe passed to Gretna, the beaten finalists. In 2008, the SFA announced that in such a situation the place would in future be awarded to the highest-placed club in the SPL who had not otherwise qualified for Europe. This followed some disappointing performances by middle-ranking Scottish teams including Gretna, Dunfermline Athletic and Queen of the South. All those clubs were knocked out at the first hurdle of the UEFA Cup which reduced the nation's coefficient, the calculation used to determine the number of places allocated in UEFA tournaments. UEFA blocked the proposed change, however, insisting that a club from the cup competition should represent Scotland. Falkirk therefore qualified for the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League as runners-up of the 2009 Scottish Cup Final to league champions Rangers. Falkirk then lost in their opening European tie to FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein. In 2010, as Dundee United had qualified for the Europa League through both winning the Scottish Cup and finishing in third place in the SPL, the Europa League place passed to Motherwell, who finished fifth in the league.
Because it involves clubs of all standards playing against each other, there is the possibility for "minnows" from the lower or junior divisions to become "giant-killers" by eliminating top clubs from the tournament. Some famous cup shocks include 1938, when Second Division East Fife were the victors in the final against Kilmarnock and thus won the cup.
On 31 January 1959, Highland League outfit Fraserburgh won 1–0 against a Dundee side which had seven Scottish internationals in their side. In 1967, Berwick Rangers defeated Rangers 1–0, with Sammy Reid scoring the only goal of the match.
In 2000, Inverness Caledonian Thistle defeated Celtic 3–1. Caley would also record another victory at home to Martin O'Neill's Celtic side in 2003. The former victory prompted the newspaper headline "Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious".
Celtic, with a debutante Roy Keane in tow, also fell victim to Clyde, a side whose average age was 21, when they were beaten 2–1 at Broadwood Stadium in January 2006. On 10 April 2010, First Division club Ross County beat Celtic 2-0 to reach the final for the first time in their history.
In the 2013–14 fourth round ties, Albion Rovers, who were second bottom of League Two at the time, defeated Premiership club Motherwell. The victory was also Albion's first win over Motherwell in 34 attempts (outwith the Lanarkshire Cup).
- Main article: List of Scottish Cup finals
|Club||Wins||Last win||Runners-up||Last final lost|
|Heart of Midlothian||8||2012||6||1996|
|Vale of Leven||3||1879||4||1890|
|Queen of the South||—||—||1||2008|
Scottish Cup matches are currently broadcast live by both BBC Sport Scotland in Scotland and Sky Sports across the rest of the United Kingdom and also into Ireland.
|Free/Pay TV||Broadcaster||Live Matches||Replays||Highlights|
|Pay||Sky Sports||Up to 9||Yes - first pick||Yes|
|Free||BBC Scotland||At least 5; up to 8||Yes - second pick||Yes|
BBC Radio Scotland provide radio coverage including several full live commentaries with additional commentaries broadcast on Radio Scotland's local frequencies. Radio broadcasting rights are also held by BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and BBC Radio 5 Live also carry some games.
The Scottish FA sells overseas rights separately from their domestic contract. In Australia, the Scottish Cup is broadcast exclusively by Setanta Sports Australia. Premium Sports hold the rights for the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
The Scottish Cup Final is one of several events reserved for live broadcast in Scotland terrestrial television under the Ofcom Code on Sports and Other Listed and Designated Events.
The tournament has been sponsored by a number of institutions in recent years, which have also lent their name to the competition. These sponsors have included:
- Scottish Health Board (–1989)
- Tennents Lager (1989–2007)
- Subsidised by the SFA (2007–2008)
- Homecoming Scotland 2009 (2008–09)
- Active Nation (2009–10)
- No sponsor (2011)
- William Hill (2012–2014)
The Scottish Government in association with businessman Willie Haughey sponsored the Scottish Cup for the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons, with the 2009 competition being called The Homecoming Scottish Cup and the 2010 competition called The Active Nation Scottish Cup.
Carling are an additional sponsor from 2010 to 2014, but they do not have naming rights for the trophy.
- Tournament home page
- The Scottish Cup at the Scottish FA website
- The Scottish Cup Archive at the Scottish FA website
- The Scottish Cup Final Archive at the Scottish FA website
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